It seems pretty clear that many of the big name free agents in this major league baseball offseason are waiting in line behind Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. That may be by their choice as well as the other teams linked to them.
For example, left-handed pitcher Dallas Keuchel would be considered on the “A” list of free agents. However, he’s looking for a 5-year deal that so far at least one team, the Philadelphia Phillies, is balking on. To further complicate things his agent, Scott Boras is also the agent for Bryce Harper. You can be sure that Boras is going to make sure both of his clients get the maximum dollars they can. However, this also means a team like the Phillies, who are allegedly in on Bryce Harper will have to wait until that decision is made before making a final decision on Keuchel. As a team that has suggested they were going to make a splash in free agency this winter, the Phillies have so far been unable to land a big name. While the odds might be long on the team signing Harper, Keuchel would seem to be within their financial reach. Right now the question for the Phillies seems to be the length of the contract.
Keuchel and Boras are reportedly seeking a 5-year deal. However, like a lot of baseball contracts, this seems to be a contract that would be paying Keuchel for past performance, which is not an indicator of future results. The southpaw has had a nice bounce back after coming off an injury-riddled 2016 campaign. However, he will turn 31 on January 1 and his fastball has lost some velocity. In this regard, Keuchel shares something in common with Corey Kluber who, although not a free agent, is the subject of trade rumors with several teams that are also linked to Keuchel. Both pitchers are known for eating innings. The question is how many more innings does Keuchel have left as a top-of-the-rotation starter?
Some are saying Keuchel could be on the same track as Jake Arrieta. Arrieta was one of the big names in free agency after the 2017 season but was unsigned until early spring after he lowered his contract demands. Not coincidentally, both Arrieta and Keuchel are represented by Boras.
All of this is not to say Keuchel will not play this year. He’s going to get signed, and the longer his situation drags out, the more likely his former team – the Houston Astros – may come back into play. However, right now the Phillies would seem to be a heavy favorite, particularly if they do not land Harper. And, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, the Milwaukee Brewers will make a push for Keuchel if his salary expectations become lower.